Mark Beck creates iconic paintings of the “American Dream”. His canvases reveal his personal experiences and ideas on what it means to be an American, and his subject matter focuses on stark images of homes, buildings, the ocean and landscapes which tend to illuminate certain aspects of American conditions. Exposed to the Hudson River Valley painters early in life, Beck was in awe of this group of artists and their ability to convey the incredible beauty and contrasts of their valley. Beck’s paintings reflect upon this beauty, yet urge us to reconcile the schism between the lush, radiant images of Manifest Destiny and the more sobering visions of American life as presented by work from renowned artists Edward Hopper and Ben Shahn whose works continue to inspire Beck. In recent paintings, Beck has pared down his images and created tension with odd juxtapositions of American beauty, tragedy and culture.
Born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Beck studied at the Portland School of Art in Maine. For four years Beck worked teaching inmates to paint at the maximum security prison The California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo. “I’ve always credited that experience with being a continuing and fascinating source of inspiration for my paintings,” said Beck. “Many aspects of the prison system and the people incarcerated there can teach us a lot about our life here in America.”